1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Just got my 1st IT Support role, here's how I did it

Discussion in 'Employment & Jobs' started by steffparry, May 23, 2010.

  1. steffparry

    steffparry Bit Poster

    Hello everyone.

    I've been reading this forum for a while now but have just registered today. That's because I wanted to thank everyone for taking the time to impart their knowledge and experience. The information I have learned here has definitely contributed to the fact that I've just landed my first proper IT Support role.

    I feel that it's time to give something back, so thought I'd share my experiences and pass on what I learned along the way.

    First and foremost- DON'T GIVE UP! I actually went from job seeking to job offer in about a month, but even then I was really disheartened by the lack of replies/interviews I was getting. Keep plugging away and eventually you will make it.

    Secondly- work hard at it! If you're not getting anywhere, change up your CV. I hacked mine down from 3 full pages to 2 and instantly starting seeing results. Don't expect jobs to come to you, keep hitting those job sites and checking your emails. I found jobserve was best and that's where I got this job from. They have loads of IT postings and their alchemy emails are right on the button, once you fine tune them. Download the iphone apps etc and check on your lunch break/on the bus etc. Use any spare time to jobseek!

    Thirdly- It's been said so many times but CERTS ARE NOT THE BE ALL AND END ALL! I am working towards my A+ but apart from that I have no IT qualifications to my name. What got me my job was experience and in particular, strong customer service skills. If you're looking for a support role, experience in practically any customer facing role will give you vital transferable skills that will go a long way with employers.

    Also, don't be put off applying for jobs because you don't have the exact skill set being asked for. Of course you have to be realistic here but if you can demonstrate that you have an aptitude towards learning new things and a strong interest in technology, then many employers will overlook minor gaps in your skill set. The way I put it in my interviews (and I had three for this position!) was: "Ok, I know that I don't have loads of past experience using XYZ but I'm a fast learner and I'll be reading up on everything on lunch breaks, in the evening etc". They will appreciate the honesty and most likely be willing to give you a try.

    I would also say that recruitment agents can be your best friends and worse enemies. Everyone knows that they have a vested interest in getting you a job but don't forget that that arrangement works for you too! They will often go the extra mile to get their money, so don't be afraid to push them- ask for feedback soon after your interview, chase up arranging second interviews etc. They won't mind, it gets them nearer to that commission and it means you may be one step ahead of other candidates by 'striking while they iron's hot'. I was invited to a third interview and they asked me when I could do it. I was already working full time so I said "Well I've taken today off anyway (I'd had the second interview that morning) so why don't I go back this afternoon?" Sure it was a pain going up to central London twice in one day from Reading but the employers loved my enthusiasm and even felt guilty for making me do the journey twice (a pity vote can't hurt your application!) and it kept me fresh in their minds, ahead of other applicants. And you know what? They offered me the job THE SAME DAY. Always keep in mind what will put you ahead of the other 150 people applying for the same role.

    On the flip side with agencies, having that extra degree of separation can make a mess of communication. After my first interview, the employer said she would arrange a second interview with the agent. When the agent finally called me (had to keep chasing) she said "I've got your feedback and it's a no I'm afraid- they said you didn't know enough about their products" Now, this instantly rang alarm bells. They hadn't asked me anything about the products or given me the opportunity to talk about them. I made her double check this with her contact at the company and guess what- there'd been a mix up and I'd been given someone else's feedback, I was supposed to have a second interview! Now, it's possible this mistake would have been noticed anyway- or perhaps it wasn't the agent's fault, but it didn't help having a buffer between me and the employer. On the whole though, my agent was excellent and she really worked hard for me and was instrumental in getting me the job.

    The other major point this brings up is don't accept everything you're told! Be proactive. If I'd have just taken the rejection as a given without questioning, I wouldn't have the job. A very valuable lesson for me.

    In interviews you are often asked "If I had your CV and another applicants and they were identical- what sets you apart and why should I hire you?". Preparing a good answer to this is VITAL. Make sure you have good examples for questions like "When have you worked well as part of a team?" Or "Tell me about a time when you went that extra mile to help a customer". Of course you can embellish but real experiences will make you seem genuine and should always give you a chance to slip in a relevant skill (especially soft skills). Of course you should NEVER talk negatively about a previous employer.

    When they ask you if you have any questions for them- make sure you do! I normally ask a couple about the company itself, then finish with "I guess my final question would be- do you have any further questions or concerns you'd like to raise with me?" ALWAYS ask this. They might say no but sometimes they will say "Well I think you'd be great but I'm worried about your lack of XYZ" You then get a chance to address this concern with them straight away and remove any worries they have about taking you on. You may have to think on your feet here but a response along the lines of "Well I understand your concern and I admit that it does seem that way but actually if you look at the work I did for blah blah blah..." or "I think I definitely have the aptitude for that and I'm sure I can pick that up very quickly" Etc. Very important!

    Well I think that's plenty waffling. Of course, individual experiences may vary but just letting you know how I went about it. Like I said, doing this- I found a new job within one month of deciding it was time to move. So to conclude:

    1) Be proactive and thorough in finding job listings
    2) When you get the interview, be prepared with examples and questions to ask. Research the company as much as possible.
    3) At the interview, seem really anthusiastic and make it easy for them to imagine you in the role (dress right, speak appropriately, ask intelligent questions).
    4) After the interview- chase your agent and/or the person interviewing you, if they don't let you know within a timely fashion. Keep jobhunting whilst you're waiting!
    5) Use your common sense and if something doesn't sound right or if you feel hard done by- question it!
    6) Don't get downhearted by rejections, Don't give up, chin up lads- you'll get there!

    Hope this helps (apart from with your insomnia!).


    Certifications: A+, BA (hons)
    WIP: Network+
  2. UKDarkstar
    Honorary Member

    UKDarkstar Terabyte Poster

    1) Welcome to CF

    2) Excellent post !

    3) Repp'd !

    Certifications: BA (Hons), MBCS, CITP, MInstLM, ITIL v3 Fdn, PTLLS, CELTA
    WIP: CMALT (about to submit), DTLLS (on hold until 2012)
  3. LukeP

    LukeP Gigabyte Poster

    Welcome to CF!

    Great advice there and congrats on getting a job! Well done.
    WIP: Uhmm... not sure
  4. craigie

    craigie Terabyte Poster

    Excellent post!
    Certifications: CCA | CCENT | CCNA | CCNA:S | HP APC | HP ASE | ITILv3 | MCP | MCDST | MCITP: EA | MCTS:Vista | MCTS:Exch '07 | MCSA 2003 | MCSA:M 2003 | MCSA 2008 | MCSE | VCP5-DT | VCP4-DCV | VCP5-DCV | VCAP5-DCA | VCAP5-DCD | VMTSP | VTSP 4 | VTSP 5
  5. Bluerinse
    Honorary Member

    Bluerinse Exabyte Poster

    G'day and welcome to the forum 8)
    Certifications: C&G Electronics - MCSA (W2K) MCSE (W2K)
  6. onoski

    onoski Terabyte Poster

    Hi and welcome to CF:) and thanks for sharing your experience and congratulations too. I always say hard work and persistence including determination is what often separates you and can make the difference.

    Well done:) and thanks again for sharing, stick around and give us a three day report on how the new role went with you.

    Best wishes and cheerio:)
    Certifications: MCSE: 2003, MCSA: 2003 Messaging, MCP, HNC BIT, ITIL Fdn V3, SDI Fdn, VCP 4 & VCP 5
    WIP: MCTS:70-236, PowerShell
  7. IT2009

    IT2009 Byte Poster

    Congratulations! It is always good to see posts like this.
    What was your customer service experience?
    Certifications: MCP, HND Business Information Systems
    WIP: A+
  8. steffparry

    steffparry Bit Poster

    Thanks for all the kind words guys!

    I've been working in customer services for a utilities company for over 3 years. This basically entailed many positions and responsibilities and included (but was not limited to) taking phone calls from customers (to answer technical and not so technical queries), dealing with customer records (updating info on our system) and creating/suspending users for the website. Later on, I was able to do UAT and creating processes as we underwent ISO compliance.

    I think it's really important to make the most of your current role. When I started, I wasn't doing anything technical at all but by being open, approachable and always volunteering to take on extra tasks, I quickly gained loads of experience above and beyond my standard job description. Look for things to do and work hard. Soon enough- when something comes up, your name will be the first on their mind and you'll be offered training/development that ordinarily you wouldn't.

    That's what I've found at any rate.

    As for my new role, I don't start until July but will be sure to report back when I do!


    Certifications: A+, BA (hons)
    WIP: Network+
  9. LukeP

    LukeP Gigabyte Poster

    This. :thumbleft
    WIP: Uhmm... not sure
  10. TheBro72

    TheBro72 New Member


    Hello Steff..

    Your initial post was fantastic to read and so motivational for me, what a breath of fresh air it was. You are living proof that you dont have to have quals to get into IT!! Your predicament is also quite similar to mine. I too am in utilities (energy sales B2C) seeking my first support role in IT but have no quals or experience. This was the main reason why I joined this forum last week, to seek advice and information from other guys out there in the IT world who are already doing what I so desperately want to do. I have received excellent advice/info from within the community (thanks guys) and saved myself a lot of money by opting not to choose a full training programme. After speaking to a few agencies (and reading your post) its seems pretty clear TP's are not necessarily the only path into IT and also there is no guarantees that you will get an IT role after shelling out £5k!

    With determination and effort you have sucessfully landed ur first role and the advice you have given has been taken on board. Since reading your post I have registered with Jobsearch and other IT recruitment specialists in the UK. I am in the process of re-wrting my CV so its factual and to the point, leaving out all the usual blurb. My role in utilities is a customer facing role, so this is a soft skill which I know I can use within a support environment. Also my previous sales role was in IT/Telecoms so I intend to re-write this to my advantage. Before that I was a graphic designer working on Apple Macs for 17yrs so Im not a complete novice to a computer!

    Like yourself I will study my A+ and N+ whilst looking for a job, this should also help my cause.

    Thank you so much for the heads up and I will let you know how I get on.
    Good luck in your new position when you start!

    Last edited: May 25, 2010
  11. Col

    Col Byte Poster

    Great post. Repped
    Certifications: A+ Network+ MCP MCDST MCITP
    WIP: CCENT Security+
  12. steffparry

    steffparry Bit Poster

    Hi guys,

    Thanks for the kind words- it's fantastic to hear that some of you have been inspired to keep hunting for that IT job.

    For the record- my agent told me that another job that I interviewed for would have been offered to me too! This was a temp to perm role starting immediately, so it didn't suit me but fantastic to hear they would have given me a shot.

    This was for a 1st line role with Ricoh, who are a massive international IT manufacturer. At the end of the interview I asked my usual "Do you have any conerns you'd like to raise with me?" and the guy said something along the lines of:

    "Well the skillset isn't all there but that doesn't really matter because you get it. The rest we can teach you"

    What he meant was that I showed awareness of the environment. IE- if you don't have any work to do, you look for some, help someone else out etc. If someone asks for permission to access another Lotus Notes user's mailbox, do you just give it to them? Security awareness is very important.

    Little things like that, show you have common sense. The technical stuff you can mainly pick up on the job or by self studying (for entry level positions anyway).

    Basically, if I can be offered 2 IT support roles in the space of a month (the only two I interviewed for in fact), with no IT certs and mainly non technical experience, then you can too. Don't give up guys and feel free to contact me if you want to know more.

    I will respond to PMs very soon, sorry for the delay!

    Keep it up lads.

    Certifications: A+, BA (hons)
    WIP: Network+

Share This Page